Union leader lashes out at author of bogus South Kitsap bond-issue letter

SOUTH KITSAP — A campaign flier distributed in the South Kitsap area falsely claiming to be from the Bremerton Metal Trades Council is calling for union members to boycott a couple dozen local businesses that support South Kitsap School District’s $172.6 million bond measure to build a new, second high school.

The unsigned flier includes the BMTC’s letterhead and the logo of the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department.

The bogus flier prompted Bruce Baillie, BMTC president, to issue a denial in an open letter that he posted on the organization’s Facebook page. He also sent the letter to the Port Orchard Independent and the South Kitsap School Supporters group, which also posted it on their Facebook page.

In his letter, Baillie wrote that while he doesn’t know the identity of the person who created the flier, “we, the members of the Council would like everyone who may have received the letter to know that it did not come from BMTC.”

Baillie said his organization supports and endorses the South Kitsap School District’s levy and bond measures that will come before voters Feb. 14. “We support those programs, those benefits and those needs to better provide an education for our children,” Baillie’s letter stated.

BMTC represents nine trade unions that have employees working at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and other construction facilities in the region. Baillie said of the 8,354 workers the organization represents, at least 2,000 are members.

Baillie said he believes the flier’s author is familiar with his organization since the document included BMTC’s address even though it isn’t on their letterhead.

“If I could find out who did it, I’d take civil action,” Baillie said. “I’m a firm believer that if you have to lie and be deceitful, then you don’t have much of an argument. Good arguments stand on their own.”

Baillie said he’s gotten plenty of feedback from his union members about the flier flap, all of it negative. “There’s lots of frustration and anger,” he said. “It’s clearly a misrepresentation of what we stand for and believe.”

South Kitsap School District has placed on the Feb. 14 special election ballot two propositions: a bond measure to build a second high school in the district, fund safety and security projects in all of the district’s schools, and make improvements to South Kitsap High School’s swimming pool, and a levy measure that reinstitutes the existing property tax funding mechanism to fund school operations.